Progression, not Perfection

Read Time:  1 min 30.

Here is one that I got out of a documentary called “Chasing Perfection” which explores what it takes to be an elite athlete.

Michael Johnson the champion 200m and 400m runner was interviewing Sir Dave Brailsford who helped Great Britain Cycling win 8 Gold medals at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games

When Bailsford started as performance director of Great Britain Cycling, part of the challenge was knowing that where they wanted to be as a team seemed so far off, and where were the gains going to come from? At the elite level you don’t get the massive steps of improvement in performance, so the challenge is to then find where the small incremental progressions are across a number of different areas within the sport.

“The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together” Dave Brailsford (2012)

The following is a transcript from the documentary where he talks about this approach

Instead of looking for perfection, let’s look for progression. Can we progress from where we are today, and make a little step forward, in a whole host of different areas? And people said, ‘yeah no problem, I can do that.’ I can actually start that now and I can do something next week, so we started looking at all these different things, training, nutrition, equipment, technology, everything we could look at, and the way we’re behaving, our attitudes. Are we smiling? Are we not smiling? You know, all these little things and you put it together and lo and behold we’d started to feel like we’d gotten some momentum”

Seems simple, doesn’t it!

It made me think.

Can I apply this idea of marginal gains to my teaching?

Does this have any relevance to student learning?

Does it somehow relate to the rubrics we’re developing?


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